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PC Games and Gaming: The Software and the Hardware - Page 2

PC Games: Updates, patches, upgrades and tweaking

The manufacturers of computer games often provide updates, patches, and upgrades for their games, which are made available as downloads from their websites, or from sites such as the following one that provides them.

Games: updates, patches and upgrades -

The Software Patch site also provides updates for Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7, device drivers, such as graphics-card drivers, and updates to application software. If a Windows security update from Microsoft Update fails to install, which happens all too often, you can locate it on the site and install it manually.

Gaming Guides -

"Game tweaking is not just about squeezing every bit of performance possible, but also getting everything running harmonically in your system, troubleshooting & fixing bugs, and obviously getting the best visual quality at the lowest cost of performance." -

Excellent free shooter game

Cube is completely free and open source single or multiplayer first-person shooter game that runs on Windows and Linux, can be customised, and allows you to make your own game maps from scratch. This game looks truly amazing, with gameplay that is as rapid as it is smooth - even on an elderly PC. The quality of this freeware is superb.

Screenshots -

Home page -

PowerStrip - Shareware

"PowerStrip provides advanced, multi-monitor, programmable hardware support to a wide range of graphics cards - from the venerable Matrox Millennium I to the recent ATI R7xx series [ATI is now called AMD.] It is the only program of its type to support multiple graphics cards from multiple chipset vendors, simultaneously, under every Windows operating system from Windows 95 to the x64-bit edition of Vista. A simple menu that pops up from the system tray provides access to some 500 controls over your display hardware, including sophisticated color correction tools, period level adjustments over screen geometry, and driver independent clock controls. A powerful application profiler can detect when programs are launched and respond by activating specific display settings, gamma adjustments, performance switches and even clock speeds - returning everything to normal when the program closes. In-game gamma hotkeys let you light up the darkest hallways during game play, and hardware control over refresh rates - with floating point precision - ensure you're never stuck at just 60Hz no matter what OS you're using. A quick setup wizard gets you up and running with minimal fuss, extensive context-sensitive help is available for all controls, and live updates are supported to ensure you're always running the latest release. Finally, an assortment of system and productivity tools - among them, extensive diagnostics, PCIe and AGP device configuration, EDID decoding, desktop icon management, a system idle thread, Windows resource monitoring, an anti-burn-in orbiting option, physical memory optimization, an on-screen display, and the most advanced monitor support in the industry - round out the compact 1MB package." -

Game-port and USB joysticks

If you use a joystick and a standard game port to play games such as Sidewinder 3.02, it will not work under Windows XP, and Sidewinder 4.0 is not compatible with the game port. You have to use a USB joystick.

Microsoft has decided to make the game port history, so Windows XP only has very limited support for game-port devices. You may be able to configure such a joystick by using one of the standard profiles in XP, but you won't be able to program all of the buttons and hat switches, nor maintain different profiles for each game.

Therefore, if you use a game-port joystick, either don't upgrade to XP, use a dual-boot Windows 98/XP system, or buy a USB joystick. Dual-booting Windows 98 and XP is the cheapest option.

Just remember that you have to have Windows 98 installed first, because, without employing an elaborate fix, 98 won't install if it detects that another operating system is installed.

How Joysticks Work:

System information

Note that you will not be able to run an AGP card using full AGP functionality with the initial (FAT16) issue of Windows 95.

Full AGP functionality is only provided by Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and above, and any version of Windows 98 or Windows Me.

This is because full AGP functionality requires the USB files to be installed. USB can be installed in Windows 95 OSR 2.0 by installing an update file, but it is buggy and not as fully functional as the USB that comes with the subsequent versions of Windows 9.x, Windows Me, and Windows XP.

Good sound reproduction is essential for game playing. For some information on sound cards, visit the Sound page on this site.

If you want to play heavy-duty games, you should not purchase a PC that has a motherboard or upgrade a computer by installing a motherboard that uses an integrated graphics chip.

Graphics chips that are integrated on to the motherboard, and have to use system RAM instead of the dedicated RAM available on a dedicated graphics card. This results in poor gaming performance.

The manufacturers of motherboards use new chipsets made by chipset manufacturers, such as VIA, Intel, ALi, and SiS, for every motherboard they bring out these days, so I am not going to provide any examples here. If you know the make and model of a motherboard, you can download the user manual from its manufacturer's site. It contains all of the technical information about the motherboard, including information on the chipset.

Online PC gaming

Online gaming on the Internet is an activity that is growing rapidly, both in the number of people taking part in it, and in the variety of games being played.

It helps if you have a fast broadband cable or DSL connection to the Internet, but it is possible to participate with a 56K dial-up modem.

With existing equipment it is possible to play games online between two players all the way up to many thousands participating at the same time.

Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are the leading manufacturers of gaming equipment. The Xbox (Microsoft), Playstation 2 (Sony), and the GameCube (Nintendo), all come ready for the Internet, and there is a steady stream of new games being released to keep the participants happy.

Thanks to games such as EverQuest and Ultima Online, online gaming has grossed approximately $500 million so far, made up of the sale of software and online subscriptions.

Sony and Nintendo both see the future growth of the online gaming market as being largely dependent on the widespread take-up of broadband DSL or cable connections. Neither company sees the required adoption of these services happening until 2004 in the US and 2005 in the UK.

This site - - is devoted to massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Massively multiplayer online game -

"A massively multiplayer online game (also called MMOG or simply MMO) is a video game which is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. By necessity, they are played on the Internet, and feature at least one persistent world. They are, however, not necessarily games played on general purpose computers; most of the newer game consoles (Xbox 360, PSP, PS3, Wii, etc.) can access the internet, and thus can have MMO genre games." -

Here are the web addresses of some of the most popular online games:

Ultima Online - Origin/Electronic Arts -

EverQuest - Sony -

Asheron's Call - Microsoft -

Dark Age of Camelot - Mythic Entertainment -

The best free online games -

"With video games developers taking action against consumers who illegally share their games, Shopper took a look at some of the best the web has to offer. These games that are available to play online or download for free, may get you hooked, so beware." -

The most difficult aspect of online gaming is finding a good place to play.

Smiley’s Games Emporium has more than 30 games to play for free online. Classics to choose from include Asteroids, Breakout and Centipede. All of the games are written in Java, which means that you don't need to download any plug-ins to play. -

Virgin Media Games

The Virgin Media website provides plenty of online games, such as Battlefield 1942, from its servers.

Gaming routers

Click here! to go to information on routers on the Networking section of this website.

Microsoft's Live account

Live is the online gaming service for the Xbox 360 gaming console, which Microsoft has now included in Windows Vista. You require a Live account to play many releases online. A Live account gives you a Gamertag unique identity that allows you to see which players are playing which games. Your Gamertag also tracks your gaming achievements that can then be compared to those of your gaming friends. Live accounts are divided into silver and gold membership. Silver membership is free. It allows you to view what your friends are doing online and to join a limited set of online games. Gold membership is what you need if you want to set up multiplayer games, use the TrueSkill matchmaking service, and play cross-platform games against Xbox 360 owners. A gold membership currently (July, 2007) costs £40 a year, which covers PC and Xbox 360 use. Note that currently there are not enough games available for the PC to justify signing up if you are just going to use a PC.

Is gigabit Ethernet desirable for network gaming?

A new PCI Gigabit Ethernet standard is now available that can transfer data at 1000Mbits/s - ten times the speed of a 100Base-T Ethernet network - across the same Category 5 (Cat5) cables as the latter standard.

For new network installations, the recommendation is to use Cat5e cable, even though Cat5 and Cat5e cabling both have the required 100MHz (1000Hz) bandwidth, because Cat5e cable is manufactured so that the additional parameters that are important for high frequency data transfer using gigabit Ethernet are better controlled.

Any recommendation to use Cat6 for a gigabit Ethernet installation should be turned down out of hand! Cat6 was added to the TIA-568 standard in June 2002, and has a 200MHz bandwidth. It is much more expensive than Cat5e cabling, so you should only consider it for use on a 10 gigabit Ethernet network.

Most networked games are designed to be played over the Internet, so they are programmed to rely on the processing power of your computer for the heavy work, and only send the data they have to across the network. In short, these games can all be played by using any one of the wide range of network conditions encountered on the Internet.

Although in gaming faster is always supposed to be better, gigabit Ethernet won't provide any advantage, because response time is the important factor for networked gaming. On the fastest broadband connection access times below 10ms don't provide any advantage, and since this can be achieved with an ordinary 10Base-T network that is a 100 times slower, gigabit Ethernet's extra capacity would be wasted.

For detailed information on this topic, enter gigabit ethernet as the search query in a web search engine.

Gaming-related webpages and sites worth visiting

Top ten free Flash games -

AMD Game Social Feed -

PlaySEGA - free online games -

Build Your Own Budget Gaming PC - US site - How to buy & assemble the right components & peripherals for less than $2,500. -

PC games news and reviews -

Yahoo! Games - Download your Video Games For Free -

Flight Gear - a free flight simulation PC game - 85MB - - free memebership -

"BEST video/computer game EVER" - Forum thread - - Different types of inexpensive subscriptions to this site allow you to downdoad plenty of games of all kinds. A newsletter is available. -

MSN (Microsoft Network) Gaming Zone -

Classic Free Games -

Gaming Links page -

Smiley’s Games Emporium has more than 30 games to play for free online. Classics to choose from include Asteroids, Breakout and Centipede. All of the games are written in Java, which means that you don't need to download any plugins to play. -

Gaming forums

TechSpot PC - Gaming and Consoles -

Web PC gaming searches

Use a search engine to find links that may have changed for the sites provided here and many more gaming sites.

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